Writing Tips From Dr. Steven Van Zoost
Essay Introductions(they are short, and designed to interest the reader) • Anecdote – a brief story, usually of a humorous or dramatic incident • Quotation or Allusion – the words of a philosopher, etc., to break the ice. • Sense Images – vivid descriptions • A striking comparison or contrast – showing how things are like or unlike each other • A poem • Narrative – telling a story upon which the writing is based • Unusual or puzzling statement – such an opening appeals to the reader’s curiosity • Figures of speech – a striking metaphor, simile, or personification, etc.
The Body(you may use more than one form at a time – let the topic choose the form) • Narration – from first event to last, tell a story • Example – give in-depth example, or several short that explain the point (personal experience, experience of others, what if…, quotes, statistics) • Description – recreate a vivid experience with a point • Cause and effect – explain by showing how one situation causes another • Comparison and contrast – explain by showing a likeness or unlikeness • Analogy – in comparing, use one to explain the other • Classification – parts of your subject fitted into categories • Process analysis – show how something happens or is done • Extended Definition – explain your topic in detail what it is
The Closing(tells the reader that you have not just run out of time or ideas, but that you’ve chosen to stop here) • Reference to the opening • Contrast or reversal – ironic device exploits the dramatic • Quotation – prose or poetry • Question – for the reader to answer • Transition signals – words, phrases, or sentences of transition commonly signal the closing • Revealing the significance – showing implications or importance of the subject • Summary – make sure it’s short • Conclusion – the drawing of a conclusion from the discussion in the essay • Prediction – a look at the subject’s future
Pointers • Outline, yes, but leave room for creative and exploring and writing • Do more than one draft. Replace weak words with strong, vague with exact • Writing is not speaking – follow all the rules • Long, big words aren’t better, remembering that your reader is your alli, not your enemy • We like to write, starting is hard • Write for communication to others, always write about something that matters to you • Keep ONE topic – a thesis statement – one message • Remember who you’re writing for
After the writing… • If you suspect something is bad, scrap it or change it • If your best efforts will not improve a stubborn passage, scrap it and begin again • If something is highly emotional, it might fall apart when looked upon with reason • Reread out loud • Proofread slowly • Leave time between writing, rewriting, editing, and proofreading – it helps to pick it apart